Sprinter Camper: 10 Upgrades That I Love!

Our Sprinter camper conversion benefited from the pandemic lock down. Here is a list of my 10 favorite upgrades!

1. LED lights

We added four lights. 1 goes on and off as the door is open and closed. The other three click on and off via one of two dimmer switches. One switch is over the bed and the second is behind the driver’s seat.

2. Guitar storage

Finally, a reasonable way to travel with a guitar! It hangs under the bed and over the kids bikes. Easy access and never in the way!

3. Trekking pole and kite shelf

Poles and kites run the length of the van and next to the kids bikes. They are easily removed via the back door.

4. Fishing pole holder.

This was a last minute addition and a surprise for the kids and I. I couldn’t be more happy!

Our three poles run the length of the van, on the driver’s side, over the bed.

5. Food and kitchen supply storage boxes.

You may have already seen these as they are part of our second bed set up but CD improved the efficiently of these as well. The lid of the box has recently been cut into two pieces so that I may access food at one end while sitting on the other end. Amazing!

6. Cabinets at eye level.

Check this out! We have two cabinets at eye level. One is on the driver’s side and is used for kitchen supplies. The second is on the passenger side, over the bed, and used for PJs and other daily use items. Both are secured to 8020.

7. Wood paneling.

Cedar tongue and groove gives the illusion of being in a cabin. Don’t underestimate the power of wood paneling!

8. Bike storage in our Sprinter camper

The kids bikes attach to wood and a metal bracket to slide under the bed easily. It takes less than 5 minutes to get them out and I have yet to encounter a peddle stuck in spokes or any of the other problems that I had prior to storing the bikes upright. Thank you high roof Sprinter camper!

9. Maxxair fan

Again, you may have heard us talk about this already but we installed the fan last year. Now that it is framed in, it not only works great but looks great too!

10. Rear AC wood paneling

CD framed the rear AC unit and vent with the Cedar tongue and groove. I don’t know how he did it but I am glad he did. It looks amazing!

Please join our blog!

5 Tips for Starting Your Sprinter Camper Make-Over.
Sprinter Roof Rails Self Installation: 12 Easy Steps.

Grand Canyon: Camping At Hermit Rapids.

Have you ever wanted to camp in the Grand Canyon? If so, consider Hermit Rapids.

Here are five things to know about hiking Hermit Trail and camping at Hermit Creek.

1. You will need a permit.

This can be obtained at the back country ranger station. You must camp in designated sites. Hermit creek campsites are first and Hermit Rapids are second, 1.5 miles further down the trail.

The trail head can be accessed with your camping permit and is 8 miles west.

2. The trail is maintained but not always obvious.

Yes, we found ourselves off the trail a few times but never enough to get particularly scared or worried. I considered it to be a trade off for getting away from the crowds.

3. The hike is not easy.

In the nearly 10 miles from the trail head to the Colorado river, this trail drops from approximately 6600 feet elevation to 2300 feet. The first 2.5 miles alone drops nearly 2000 feet.

I loved this about this hike.

4. There is water!

Bring your filters and purification systems and get some water. Santa Maria Spring is 2.5 miles from the trail head and is a great place to catch some shade and some cool water!

Hermit Creek is the next water source. It flows from its location at the campsite into the Colorado River.

Not only did I appreciate the drinking water but putting my feet in Hermit Creek was like a slice of paradise!

Grand canyon.
A great place to take a break!

5. It is worth the hike in to the Grand Canyon.

The rapids are impressive and the night sky is dark. Expect to see a handful of others on the trail and at camp. For me, there were just enough people to help me feel like I was in the right place but not so many that I was aware of their presence in the canyon.

We hiked in May and the sun was hot. There is a period of shade if you hit the timing right on the hike but this is easy to forget once the hot sun hits you again.

We walked out of the canyon and straight to our car without being greeted by tour groups and day hikers. The trade off was that there wasn’t anyone there to cheer for us or congratulate us on our successful hike back from the canyon floor but still, it was worth it!

Tarptent
A period of shade on the way down and way up.

Please follow our blog for more fun!

6 Reasons to Consider a Floor-less Tarp Tent.
10 Clues That Your Husband Was A Thru – Hiker.
Advertisements
Advertisements

Packing for a Pandemic Road Trip.

I never expected to be writing about packing for a pandemic road trip. I consider packing to be a highly subjective and personal topic. Everyone has different preferences and techniques for packing based on their needs.

So, here I am, mid pandemic, packing for our annual cross country road trip.

Below are 5 ways that Covid 19 is changing our trip.

1. Food. Much More Food.

We cook nearly all of our meals at the van and have been surprised how many beautiful and out of the way spots we have found only because we wanted to cook lunch.

With that being said, we also love fresh fruits, local food, and finding reasons to get out of the van mid-road trip. Over the years, I have learned to pack less food and stop more often. We enjoy checking out fruit stands and local grocery stores. We stretch our legs, soak up the culture, and buy food often during our trips.

This time, however, I have been stock piling food. Costco, Safeway, and homemade cookie baking have supplied enough food to live in our van for weeks. To CD’s dismay, I have even resorted to 54 single serving bags of chips, granola bars, drink boxes, and even a few bottles of water. I basically made my own convenience store in the back of our Sprinter. We will see how far it gets us!

2. Clorox Wipes and Hand Sanitizer.

While I like to keep things clean, I am not prone to wiping things down all day long. We use water with a spigot and a bar of soap to wash our hands before we eat. I typically carry one tiny bottle of hand sanitizer for emergencies. This time I packed two containers of Clorox wipes, two large bottles and three small bottles of hand sanitizer. I still have the bar of soap but that just didn’t seem like it would cut it. We will see.

3. Masks.

I didn’t see this one coming. I have two adult makes with ties, two adult masks with elastic, two kids masks with ties, two adult N95s, two kids N95s, and a bit of anxiety. As a health care provider, I hope that we don’t get into a situation that seems like it requires a N95. Wish us luck.

4. Luggable Loo And Extra Accessories.

The Luggable Loo is our potty of choice. I use biodegradable bags and poo powder. I have not typically bought extras. This time I did.

5. Guitar.

Okay, this isn’t new but it seems like a good idea when faced with a socially distant pandemic road trip. I can already hear the music.

Please follow our blog to hear about our trip!

Advertisements
Advertisements
Sprinter Van Shopping List For The Minimalist
Storage In Our Sprinter: A simple solution
Fresh food. This time it may look more like empty chip bags and mac and cheese but we shouldn’t be hungry.

5 Tips for Starting Your Sprinter Camper Make-Over.

We have been home since mid-March. Our pandemic projects include sour dough bread making, teaching home school, and continuing work on our Sprinter camper. CD’s progress with the Sprinter has been the most successful of the three.

Roof rails are installed, LED lights are wired to a dimmer switch, cedar tongue and groove is in place, and two new cabinets are ready to be filled.

Writing guides for each of this projects will take a me a bit of time but while I work on that, CD offered his top 5 tips for our diving into a Sprinter camper project.

Sneak peek! I can’t wait to share more.

1. Accept gaps in wood spacing or make custom pieces.

CD chose to custom cut each piece of wood. Time was not of the essence.

2. Realize that your Sprinter is not square.

No matter how square things start out, your van is not square.

3. Create things with wiggle room.

Plan on fine adjustments and be flexible.

4. Consider both your ideal end product and your acceptable end product.

Decide which of these you are working towards.

5. Be honest about your timelines.

Realize that your acceptable product will likely take as long you thought your ideal product would. Set out to make your ideal product and you may end up with your good enough one. If you are set on your ideal product, plan to increase your time spent ten fold and have plenty of extra wood on hand.

Have Fun With Your Sprinter Camper!

Please sign up for our blog to track for step by step guides and share in the fun!

Sprinter Roof Rails Self Installation: 12 Easy Steps.
Sprinter Van Shopping List For The Minimalist
Storage In Our Sprinter: A simple solution
Sprinter Low Roof vs High Roof
Advertisements
Advertisements

Here is great source for van campers! Check it out!

DIY Promaster Camper Conversion Guide – Part I

Glacier National Park: An Afternoon At Two Medicine

I could write ten blog posts about my adventures at Glacier National Park. My first time in the park was over twenty years ago. Those few days of hiking and exploring were the spark for much of the traveling that has come since. Just when I thought I could not be more impressed by Glacier, I stumbled into Two Medicine.

Two Medicine is found on the east side of the park and on the shore of Two Medicine Lake. We arrived via Highway 2 from West Glacier on our way out of park. Once there, we found a campground, camp store, ice cream, hikes, picnic areas, boat rentals, and views for miles!

The view from camp store is awesome! The boat dock is to the left and hiking to the right. We recommend checking it out while eating ice cream and skipping stones!
Advertisements
Advertisements

5 Ways to Enjoy Two Medicine, Glacier National Park.

1. Browse the Two Medicine Store.

Are you hungry? Do you need hiking or camping supplies? Are you just looking for a nice cup of coffee? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, drop into the store. In addition to having everything you need and then some, enjoy its history and scenery.

2. Have a picnic.

Get your lunch to go and head out to the lake. Skip stones and listen to the waves as you eat.

We love having a picnic on the shore of a mountain lake, obviously!

3. Take a boat ride.

We didn’t have a chance to enjoy this first hand but we heard good reviews by people at the park. The tours were full so we will make a note to reserve a seat next time.

4. Enjoy a hike.

Hikes are easy to come and offer great rewards. Waterfalls as accessible in as little as .3 miles. Full or half day hikes and multi-day backpacking trip options are available as well.

This hiking trail was just right for us!

5. Stop by the ranger’s station. Get your National Park Passport stamp!

The ranger’s station was great and everyone was kind, of course! The kids were amazed by the size of this print. I was, as well.

Please follow our blog for more fun!

You can check out some of our other posts, as well!

Waterton Lakes National Park in 1 Day.
Cranbrook BC: Stop and Enjoy. 5 Things to Love.

Manitou Incline: All Your Questions Answered.

The Manitou Incline is well known among Colorado Springs locals. It is the remains of a narrow gauge railway that was built in 1907 and destroyed by a rock slide in 1990. The rails were removed and the rail road ties remain.

Until 2013 locals and fitness enthusiasts would walk past “no trespassing” signs to hike up the remains. CD and I were among the people that made this trek and did so without injury.

It has since been repaired and officially opened to the public. Thanks to this restoration, the trail is much more safe which still being sufficiently challenging.

Manitou Incline Stats:

  • Altitude at the base: 6600 ft
  • Ascent: 2011 ft
  • Distance: 0.88 miles
  • Steps: 2744
  • Grade: up to 68%

Getting There:

  • By car: Manitou Springs is a 20 minute drive from Colorado Springs
  • By bus: Check the schedule here

Parking:

  • The base of the incline offers paid parking.
  • The town of Manitou Springs offers various parking options. A free shuttle bus runs to the incline every twenty minutes year round. I have also walked the approximately 1.5 miles to and from town but I thinking that the shuttle bus looked like a nicer option!
Advertisements
Advertisements

Packing List:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Trekking poles
    • 2 poles. Seriously – you will thank me later!
  • Water
    • To drink and to pour on yourself if are still there when the sun hits!
  • Snacks
    • I recommend a piece of fruit for a picnic at the top!
  • Camera
  • A friendly smile and a social attitude
    • Everyone is in this together! You will find that people are chit chatting and encouraging each other the whole way. It is the best!

Trip Planning And Other Tips:

  • Start early if you can
    • I usually don’t start early enough and end up mid incline in the hot sun. Be aware that there isn’t any shade. You can duck off to the side in the trees a bit but it won’t offer much relief.
  • Embrace the community! Talk to people. Give encouragement. Accept encouragement. Smile. Laugh, sweat, and cheer together!
  • Going down will take longer than going up. They don’t allow walking down the incline so be ready to hike the Barr Trail down.
  • Know that there is a bail out spot half way up. It connects back to the Barr Trail and heads down. If you can make it, keep going slow and steady. The view from the top is impressive.
  • Be aware of the false summit. Just like most mountain hikes, the incline offers false hope. For this hike you are pretty much always “almost there”.
  • Don’t be afraid to be slow and steady. I have climbed it fast and climbed it slow. Both have been great. In terms of the actual time, slow and fast aren’t really that different. Enjoy!

Please follow our blog for other adventures!

Oregon’s Coast, Manzanita: A Hidden Gem.
10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.
Advertisements
Advertisements

Craters Of The Moon National Monument: In One Day

It was dark, the kids were asleep, and we were driving through the same part of Idaho that we had many times before. We hadn’t decided where to camp or how long to drive so we exited the highway, towards Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Our Sprinter van was the reason we made this choice; we didn’t have cell service, there weren’t any hotels, and I had not idea if there was anywhere to sleep once we got there. It turns out that the closest hotels are more than 30 miles from the park and the campground was full.

We parked our van near the visitor’s center and settled in for the night.

The next day we work up and it looked like we were on the Moon. The kids were amazed and excited all at once!

It looks like I imagine the moon!

5 Helpful Tips For 1 Day At Craters of Moon National Monument.

  1. Plan where to stay. The campground is small and may be full. Other lodging options are approximately 30 miles away.
Craters of the Moon

2. Check out the visitor’s center! Not only can you get your National Parks Passport stamp and your Junior Ranger badge but it has displays, movies, and activities for everyone!

3. Bring a headlamp! The lava tubes are a must-see. The caves trail offers easy access. You must get a Caves Permit prior to entering the caves. The permit is free.

caves: lava tubes
caves.

4. Prepare for the elements. Bring a jacket if it is windy and a hat if it is sunny. The trails are exposed and you will be out in the weather.

sun. wind. moon rock. the kids loved it!
walk on the moon on a clear day

5. Bring food and drinks. It takes a bit to get back to town to the East and even longer to the West. There aren’t restaurants or gas stations right there so pack a lunch, grab a picnic table, and enjoy!

Advertisements
Advertisements
a nice walk on the moon on a clear day. the kids ran part of the way.

Please like our blog for more fun!

A Glimpse of Southern Utah
10 Things To Pack For Hiking The PCT.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan: Summer Top 5.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore sits on the western side of northern lower Michigan. With dunes rising 400 feet above its 65 miles of shoreline, this park does not disappoint! Check out forests, wetlands, streams, inland lakes, historic homesteads, campgrounds, hiking trails, a 1920’s village, and the more recently added Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail bike path.

It is hard to decide where to begin but here are 5 ideas to get you started!

5. Empire Bluff Trail

This trail is short and sweet. This 1.5 mile round trip hike will satisfy hikers and photographers alike.

Start at the Visitor’s Center in Empire and get directions to the trail head which is just a few miles down the road. The trail is unassuming at first but don’t let that fool you. The views from the top some of the most remarkable in the park.

4. Glen Haven

Whether you are looking for a Junior Ranger cancellation or are excited to check out a working blacksmith’s shop, Glen Haven is worth the stop!

There is a general store, boat house, clean restrooms, and beach access with picnic tables.

4. Sleeping Bear Point Lifesaving Station

On your way out of Glen Haven, follow the road until it ends at Sleeping Bear Point. The building from 1901 is now a Maritime Museum.

Learn about the lives of the people that lived at the station and the tools they used for rescues. Look out for an opportunity to participate in the daily lifesaving demonstration and you may even see them fire the Lyle Gun!

You can also access the Sleeping Bear Point Loop Trail from here. This 2.8 mile trail may not be the most picturesque in the park but it is certainly one of the most diverse. Hike up and down rolling dunes as you experience some of the different terrain and ecosystems that Michigan has to offer. Bring water and keep in mind that 2.8 miles over sand dunes takes longer and is more difficult than the same distance on pavement.

Advertisements
Advertisements

2. Dune Climb

Whether you want to play in the sand, have a picnic, or climb for a view of Glen Lake, the Dune Climb has it all. Some amenities include clean restrooms, potable water, a gift shop with a park passport cancellation, and an ice cream vending machine.

Advertisements

For those of you that are looking for a challenge, the Dune Climb trail ends at Lake Michigan. Be aware that this hike is rated strenuous and in my experience, it is easy to underestimate its difficulty. There are wooden posts marking the trail so keep an eye on those. bring water, hat, and sunscreen. Prepare to be exposed on wide open sand dunes for 3-4 hours.

While there are much easier ways to get to Lake Michigan, you will likely feel the greatest sense of accomplishment if you arrive there by foot via these dunes. Honestly, I only do it for the exercise so if that is not a huge motivator for you, I recommend skipping this hike, accessing Lake Michigan at Glen Haven, and climbing the dune just high enough for a bird’s eye view of Glen Lake.

1. Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

This is one of my favorite things that has happened anywhere in the past several years! The Heritage Trail is a mixed use, non motorized trail planned to extend 27 miles from Empire to North of Glen Arbor. There are currently 22 miles completed.

Avoid traffic and parking hassles by utilizing the trail. In 2019, my husband, myself, and three kids under 10 logged 29.1 miles on the trail in 2 days. Bikes were our only means of transportation once we set up camp at DH Day campground.

Here are the top reasons we love the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

  • It is more safe for families than riding on the road
  • It is the fastest route from DH Day campground to Glen Haven or the Dune Climb on a busy day.
  • Bike parking in Glen Arbor is less stressful and more available than car parking.
  • Your car can be kept safe from sandy kids.
  • Riding the trail is good exercise and better for the environment than driving a car.
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan

Please like and follow our blog for more adventures!

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Bike, Swim, Repeat
Steamboat Springs: Top 5

Oregon’s Coast, Manzanita: A Hidden Gem.

It is well known that the Oregon coast if full of breathtaking scenery and widespread ocean access. Hidden among the 362 miles of Oregon’s coastline is the town of Manzanita.

Manzanita is in Tillamook county, north of Lincoln City and south of Astoria. It is home to seven miles of coastline and beaches. With a population only in the triple digits, the effects of tourism are obvious. The benefits to those that vacation there are great.

The Main Street

Lenada Avenue is the heart of downtown. Restaurants, coffee houses, and shops have names like Left Coast Siesta, Neahkanie Bistro, Bread and Ocean Bakery, and MacGregor’s: A Whiskey Bar.

The Beach, Oregon’s Coast

From town, the beach is steps away. Our Meredith Lodging rental house was across from Hallensted Park, 6 blocks from the main street and two blocks from the beach.

This sign says it all!
Great beaches!
The main road from town ends where the other people are standing. Oregon’s Coast.

NeahKahnie Mountain

Don’t miss this hike! Oswald State Park offers a 8 mile long mountain loop trail or a 2.8 mile shorter version. The trail is well taken care of and inviting.

The trees are welcoming also

It is a steady but not impossible climb with plenty of chances to slow down and explore. We used our favorite kids carrier a few times, more so for fun than out of necessity.

If you haven’t already, check out the Piggyback Rider Standing Kids Carrier.

Walking is good but a standing child carrier is great

For our hike, we opted for the shorter version. Once at the summit, we agreed that the effort to reward ratio of this hike was great! A short scramble at the top leads to some of my best views of Oregon’s coast.

Oregon Coast, looking south and beyond that as well.

Please follow our blog for more good times!

Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast Day-Trip.
Leavenworth Washington In An Afternoon
Advertisements

6 Great Surprises along the Trans-Canada Highway.

My husband, myself, our 5 year old son, and 3 year old daughter traveled from Oregon to Ontario via British Columbia and Alberta. I had wanted to drive the Trans-Canada Highway for at least the ten years prior. It was everything that I hoped for and more!

We looked out the window and stopped when whenever we wanted.

Here are 5 unexpected things that we loved while traveling from Salmon Arm to Banff.

1. Revelstoke.

Are you kidding? Revelstoke is amazing!

It is like a mountain oasis on the banks of the Columbia River.

In 2016, when we were there, Revelstoke apparently had a population of just over 6,700 and by 2019 that increased to over 14,000. As far as I can tell, that is for good reason.

The town is full of local cafes and shops. Food options are endless. Whether you are looking for organic, homemade, local, vegan, vegetarian, grass fed, or just delicious, you will find what it! People are friendly and kind.

The mountain resort is modern and has views for miles. The mountainside lodging in June was too much of a deal to pass up. We signed on for a slope side 2 bedroom with a kitchen and patio. I recommend bringing food and drinks from town if you are staying more than a night but the room will not disappoint!

You will see bears if you are lucky. The mountain coaster is super fun. The views are remarkable.

2. Spiral Tunnels along the Trans-Canada Highway.

I had never even heard of a spiral tunnel. When we saw our first one we were amazed. Then we wanted to learn more!

There are two view points. One along the Trans-Canada Highway just over 7 kilometers east of Field.

Basically, an train leaves Field going eastbound and goes through two tunnels, under the highway, across the river and into the Lower Spiral Tunnel. The train spirals up and exits the tunnel higher than where it started. It crosses the river again, goes under the highway, and into a second tunnel. It exits that tunnel higher yet.

You have the opportunity to see each end of the train at different altitudes at the same time. Does that make sense? It does when you see it!

3. Yamnuska Wolfdog Santuary

The kids were ready to stretch theirs legs. This was near the highway and so popped in.
The staff are kind and obviously care for the animals. The kids like it and I continue to find wolves kind of creepy.

It’s a nice stop and welcome rest break on the way east bound to Banff.

4. National Parks along the Tran-Canada Highway.

Mt. Revelstoke, Glacier, and Yoho are all packed into a short piece of the Trans-Canada Highway. I will let these parks speak for themselves. Stop at each one, especially Yoho. You won’t be disappointed.

5. Via Feratta,Banff.

Via Feratta is Italian for “iron way”. It is a climbing route with cables, ladders, and fixed anchors.

This is the view of Banff from the Via Feratta.

6. Banff: The Less Crowded Side.

Here is a picture of an afternoon away from main street, tour groups, and hotels parking garages. This side of Banff isn’t hard to find.